Today’s letter is… the letter P!

Ah, ah, ah. Wait. Wrong character.

I’m perusing methods of producing playful pieces out of parts of life that piss me off; in this case, more commonly misused words. It’s odd, the things that make me snicker (alliteration yay). To be frank, I don’t know if any of this has been used before, but it’s new to me and I enjoy it. So if you do too, reader, more power to you.

Peak, Peek, Pique – Peak is a noun meaning the literal top of something, like a wave; or a more figurative height, like that of emotion. It can also be a verb meaning to go to that height.

Peek is a verb meaning to look at, sometimes quickly or secretly.

Pique can mean annoyance or anger, such as in the phrase ‘a fit of pique;’ or to awaken or sharpen, as in ‘tastebuds piqued’ or ‘hunger piqued.’ I haven’t eaten yet, and apparently I get hangry. (New word. Not mine. I think I like it.)

He peeks over a wall at mountain peaks that pique his interest. The peek at the peaks pique to a peak his envy of the neighbor’s snowmobile, and he’s off to the shops in a fit of pique. Which is a bad idea, because that kind of shopping destroyed his credit rating.

Pare, Pear, Peer – Pare is to use a knife on, usually a smaller knife for delicate, fiddly work (like paring fruit or paring down fingernails). In the case of paring down, it means to remove excess (material, expense, that sort of thing).

Pears, you eat.

Peer can be a verb that means to look at, or a noun that means someone in the same position as you are (if you are a student in a classroom full of students, the other students are your peers). This second meaning has also been used about nobility (look at the term peerage, for instance).

Have a peer pare a pear. What peer has ever even peered in a kitchen long enough to learn how to pare anything, let alone a pear? Peer at the peer as the peer pares the pear. Comedy gold. Not such good eating though, if there’s anything left of either peer or pear after paring.

Ah ha-hah—almost forgot.

Palate, Pallet, Palette – Palate is the roof of your mouth. The hard part looks like an accordion. (How do I know? Tried to fit a handheld mirror in my mouth, and looked at the image in the first mirror using a second on the wall. I don’t know what the soft part looks like, because I can’t get the mirror that far in. Hang on, my paranoia just kicked in and reminded me to tell you not to try that at home. Ask a dentist for a look instead.)

On a related note, ‘palate’ is also used to refer to your sense of taste, as in ‘a refined palate’ that can tell the difference between the flavors of Gewurztraminer and Liebfraumilch. (I can’t. Those were just fun to spell.)

Pallet can be used to refer to a bulk quantity of merchandise, like a pallet of canned tomato sauce, or the wooden slatted thing that holds all those cans of sauce. It can also be used to refer to a small, uncomfortable bed, especially in old romantic poetry with moonlight streaming through the window into an artist’s bare tower garret, the lone candle shedding its flickering light over the messy bedding that needs a good wash, the greasy bastard.

Speaking of artists, palette is that slab thing that holds all the globs of paint. (Ever seen the one Bob Ross has? His is huge. God, I’m twelve.) In a related sense, it’s a collection of colors associated with a particular theme, like reds and oranges and golds and browns are associated with autumn.

Since all of these look like the word ‘plate’ and refer to flat objects, I think I can understand why these three words are confused so frequently. Still don’t like when that happens. When you’re in the flow of a really good story, it’s unpleasantly jarring to run into a rabid typo. Get it right, authors!

Uh. Right. All those words in a pile. Hang on…

Awakening on his pallet, he bemoaned the breakfast of dry bread and stale wine that offended his palate, and reached for a palette crusted over with tempura.

Oh! I got another word for the next go-round! See you then, reader.

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